Australia’s federal court has ordered Visa Worldwide, a subsidiary of Visa, to pay a penalty of A$18m for engaging in anti-competitive conduct.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) brought the case after the company blocked a rival currency conversion service, Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), on its payment network from a period spanning 1 May to 6 October 2010.
ACCC said in a statement: "This prohibition meant that retail stores, hotels and restaurants that were not already offering DCC to their customers as at 30 April 2010 could not choose to offer DCC.
"In effect, this froze the pool of merchants who could offer DCC during the period of the prohibition, which in turn prevented the further expansion of DCC during that period. The Court declared that by this conduct Visa contravened section 47 of the CCA."
DCC competes with Visa’s currency conversion services, helping international cardholders complete a transaction in their home currency, including online merchants.
After a consumer opts for DCC, the exchange rate is locked in and revealed to the cardholder at the time of making a transaction.
In addition, the court has also directed Visa to pay A$2m to ACCC in legal costs.